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Health Tips

A key mineral for stress and mental wellbeing – are you getting enough?

By 06/08/2019 No Comments

Magnesium is a mineral, which is essential for over 300 enzymatic systems in the body, many of which relate to brain and nervous system function. Inadequate intake of magnesium, usually due to poor intake, reduced absorption or increased excretion from the body, is linked to cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases, skeletal disorders and neurological abnormalities.

Magnesium and mental wellbeing

Magnesium comes up a lot when talking about muscle cramp relief, exercise recovery and sleep. However, magnesium is also a very beneficial mineral when it comes to supporting your body to adapt to stress and promoting mental wellbeing.

Magnesium has been shown to help reduce the release of hormones, which lead to over activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which plays a role in our stress response. Over activation of this axis is associated with increased stress and lower stress tolerance, which can lead to poor mental health such as increased anxiety and low mood.

Additionally, magnesium is also an important co-factor necessary to help synthesise neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, a deficiency in either of these can lead to symptoms of depression, nervousness, inability to concentrate and anxiety.

While magnesium can be every beneficial for stress, being in a state of prolonged stress can lead to increased depletion of magnesium. In addition, high fibre intakes can block the absorption of magnesium but most of us do not consume enough fibre to warrant this concern.

How much magnesium do we need?

According to the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, the recommended dietary intake for adults is:

Men
19-30 years: 400mg/day
31+ years: 420mg/day

Women
19-30 years: 310mg/day
31+ years: 320mg/day

Food sources of Magnesium

I often get asked, which foods actually contain magnesium? As you can see from the list below, magnesium is quite abundant in a wide range of food. It is definitely higher in plant based foods, so another benefit of striving to consume more magnesium is that you will likely be consuming more plants, win win! I encourage you to have a look over the below and think about how often you consume the below foods and whether your diet is likely to contain adequate magnesium.

Animal-based
100g cooked cod fish = 40mg
100g cooked salmon = 34mg
100g cooked chicken breast = 27mg
100g cooked beef = 26mg
100g cheddar cheese = 26mg
100g natural yoghurt = 17mg
1 extra large boiled egg = 5mg

Plant-based
100g cocoa = 510mg
100g chia seeds = 335mg
100g sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds = 425mg
100g almonds = 260mg
100g cashews = 250mg
100g uncooked oats = 100mg
100g dried figs = 73mg
100g firm tofu = 78mg
100g raw spinach = 68mg
100g cooked quinoa = 56mg
100g cooked black beans = 49mg
100g boiled brown rice = 49mg
100g green or brown cooked lentils = 31mg
100g cooked red kidney bean = 30mg
1 medium banana = 30mg
100g cooked barley = 28mg
100g cooked chickpeas = 27mg
100g raw rocket = 23mg
100g broccoli = 21mg
100g raw kale = 15mg

Magnesium Rich Chocolate Banana Smoothie

Serves 1

Ingredients
1 cup soy milk
1 medium frozen banana
20g avocado, skin and pip removed, diced
10g baby spinach leaves
20g cocoa/cacao
20g chia seeds
honey to sweeten
ice, optional

Method

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Magnesium total: 253mg